State Library of Victoria
Title: Portrait photograph of Marcus Clarke in riding gear [picture].
Date(s): ca. 1866 [unattributed]
Description: 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount : albumen silver ; 10.3 x 6.3 cm.
Identifier(s): Accession no(s) H2011.89
HOBART HOTELS CLOSED
HAUNT OF MARCUS CLARKE
Eight hotels delicensed recently by the Hobart Licensing Court closed their doors last night. One is the Old Bell, where Marcus Clarke is supposed to have written a portion of his famous novel, “For the Term of His Natural Life.”
Source: HOBART HOTELS CLOSED. (1920, January 2). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 – 1924), p. 4. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106495811.
The Old Bell Hotel (or Inn) was located at 132 Elizabeth Street, in one photograph, a streetscape ca. 1890, and at 148 Elizabeth St. in a later photograph of the facade. In either case, it was just three doors from Thomas Nevin’s studio, The City Photographic Establishment, his glass house and driveway at 138-140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, and on the same side of the street. Nevin operated the business in the name of Nevin & Smith until 1868 after partner Alfred Bock’s bankruptcy in 1865, and continued as a commercial photographer at the same premises and studio until late 1875 when he was appointed to the civil service. This photograph shows The Old Bell Hotel on the right hand side, numbered 132, and further down, the number 140 (the zero obliterated) next to the Bridges Bros. store which adjoined the laneway leading to Nevin’s glass house.
Title: Photograph – Elizabeth Street looking south (Brisbane Street) – Bridges Bros and The Bell Hotel at number 132
Description: 1 photographic print
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
But this later photograph shows the Old Bell at 148 Elizabeth St:
Source: TAHO Ref:PH40-1-93c
As it seems that Thomas Nevin was partial to a drink, inebriation being the chief reason he was dismissed by the Police Committee from his position of Town Hall keeper in December 1880, the Old Bell Hotel was the closest public bar to his studio during the 1870s and most likely his preferred watering hole. Thomas Nevin was still alive in 1920 (d. 1923) when the hotel, known as the Old Bell, was delicensed, so he may have contributed to this story that Marcus Clarke drank there while writing his famous novel, published in installments from 1870 after a visit to the derelict prison at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. Marcus Clarke was a heavy drinker, a sufferer of dyspepsia and a disordered liver, dying at just 35 years old (1846-1881), whereas Thomas Nevin was a Wesleyan who not only proved immune to the illnesses which beset his other family members on the voyage out on the Fairlie (1852), he lived to the distinguished age of 81 yrs, his beard still red and his eyes still clear.
Title: Photograph – “Old Bell Hotel”, Hobart – interior of bar [n.d.]
Description: 1 photographic print
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania
If the story about the Old Bell is factual, propinquity alone would have brought Thomas Nevin and Marcus Clarke together, and to their mutual satisfaction, given the journalistic background of John Nevin, Thomas’ father, and Thomas Nevin’s involvement with photographing the prisoner and ex-prisoner population would have given Marcus Clarke a ready source of information regarding police and prisoners at the Hobart Gaol one street away from the Old Bell Hotel. Nevin may have introduced Clarke to William Robert Giblin, Thomas Nevin’s family solicitor, who was the Attorney-General and later, Premier, and he may have also introduced Clarke to Maria Nairn, the widow of William Edward Nairn, sheriff of Hobart from 1857 until his death in 1868. Maria Nairn had leased an acre of land to John Nevin, next to the Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley, not far from Clarke’s lodgings. These prototypes served Marcus Clarke’s fiction, along with the officials “of position” who allowed him to view prison records at Hobart, Town on his request:
When at Hobart Town I had asked an official of position to allow me to see the records, and – in consideration of the Peacock – he was obliging enough to do so. There I found set down, in various handwritings, the history of some strange lives… and glancing down the list, spotted with red ink for floggings, like a well printed prayer-book …
Source: Marcus Clarke, THE SKETCHER. (1873, August 2). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 – 1946), p. 5. Retrieved September 21, 2014, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137581230
THE LAST HOPE.Book III, Chapter XIII (page 290)
Image taken from Marcus Clarke, For the Term of his Natural Life
WL Crowther Library,
State Library of Tasmania
Source: Colonialism and its Aftermath
Marcus Clarke’s Preface to His Natural Life,
First Published: 1870. Source: http://adc.library.usyd.edu.au/data-2/p00023.pdf
The convict of fiction has been hitherto shown only at the beginning or at the end of his career. Either his exile has been the mysterious end to his misdeeds, or he has appeared upon the scene to claim interest by reason of an equally unintelligible love of crime acquired during his experience in a penal settlement.
Charles Reade has drawn the interior of a house of correction in England, and Victor Hugo has shown how a French convict fares after the fulfilment of his sentence. But no writer — so far as I am aware — has attempted to depict the dismal condition of a felon during his term of transportation.
I have endeavoured in “His Natural Life” to set forth the working and results of an English system of transportation carefully considered and carried out under official supervision; and to illustrate in the manner best calculated, as I think, to attract general attention, the inexpediency of again allowing offenders against the law to be herded together in places remote from the wholesome influence of public opinion, and to be submitted to a discipline which must necessarily depend for its just administration upon the personal character and temper of their gaolers.
Some of the events narrated are doubtless tragic and terrible; but I hold it needful to my purpose to record them, for they are events which have actually occurred, and which, if the blunders which produce them be repeated, must infallibly occur again. It is true that the British Government have ceased to deport the criminals of England, but the method of punishment, of which that deportation was a part, is still in existence. Port Blair is a Port Arthur filled with Indian-men instead of Englishmen; and, within the last year, France has established, at New Caledonia, a penal settlement which will, in the natural course of things, repeat in its annals the history of Macquarie Harbour and of Norfolk Island.
Thomas Nevin photographed the Elizabeth Street view of his studio, including the Old Bell Hotel, in the late 1860s from the corner of Patrick Street. According to one of Alfred Bock’s advertisement, the studio’s former operator, its address was “Three doors from Patrick-street” …
The Mercury, 7 July 1863.
The City Photographic Establishment “Three doors from Patrick-street”
Bock’s new gallery was actually a glass house.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection (2006 database)
Ref: Q1994.56.12 sepia stereoscope salt paper print T. Nevin impress
ITEM NAME: Photograph:
MEDIUM: sepia stereoscope salt paper print
MAKER: T Nevin [Artist]; DATE: 1860s late
DESCRIPTION : Hobart from near 140 Elizabeth Street on corner Patrick ? Street.
Nevin & Smith photographic Studio in buildings on extreme right [ refer also to Q1994.56.33]
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: Impress on front: T Nevin/ photo
Same as above: TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.12 (scan 2015)
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
Stereograph by T. Nevin of Elizabeth St. “three doors from Patrick St.”
Verso blank (below)
The Movie (1929)
Watch the full version